Learn how to use the Postsecondary Data Partnership Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard to measure the impact of Pell Grants on transfer-in student retention/persistence rates.

In this tutorial, we demonstrate how to use the PDP Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard to measure the impact of Pell Grants on transfer-In student retention/persistence rates.​

The Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard reports the retention and persistence rates for student cohorts after each term during their first two academic years for up to eight consecutive terms. This data may reveal stop-out behavior during a student’s first two academic years. Stop-out is when a student fails to enroll in one term but re-enrolls at a later term. At the institution level, stop-out behaviors result in enrollment declines for a term and an increase in the following term.​

What is the difference between retention and persistence?  ​

Retention describes how many students are still enrolled at or have earned a credential from your institution per term. This is a measure of how well your institution retains students and highlights at what point students are dropping out or transferring.​

Persistence describes how many students are still enrolled at or have completed a credential at another institution per term. This definition may differ from how your institution defines persistence. Check with your institution’s PDP administrator if you have questions about how your institution defines persistence.​

Let’s use this dashboard to answer this research question: For students transferring-in to our institution in the spring term of 2015, what is the impact of Pell Grants on their long-term retention/persistence?​

Before we continue, please remember that the results and trends shown in this tutorial can not be applied to your institution. This data is only for demonstration purposes. Please review your institution’s data before drawing conclusions.​

On the Home Page for the PDP dashboards, one of the Outcomes-Over-Time metrics is the Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard. Clicking this icon takes us to the dashboard.​

Before we can answer this research question, we need to set four filters – Enrollment Type, Cohort Term, Cohort, and Retention and Persistence.​

First, we need to filter our dashboard to only include transfer-in students. To do that, click “Enrollment Type”, deselect “All”, select “Transfer-In”, and click “Apply”.​

Next, since we are interested in students entering in the spring term, let’s click “Cohort Term” and select “Spring”.​

Then, since we’re interested in the spring term of 2015, we need to set the Cohort to 2014-15.​

And, finally, since we are interested in whether those students are still in college, regardless of where they are enrolled, or have completed a credential, let’s set the Retention and Persistence filter set to “Retention/Persistence”.​

Before we continue, let’s find this population’s retention/persistence rate for the fall 2016 term.  To do that, let’s count the terms across: Term 1 is Spring 2015, Term 2 is Summer 2015, Term 3 is Fall 2015, Term 4 is Winter 2016, Term 5 is Spring 2016, Term 6 is Summer 2016, Term 7 is Fall 2016, and Term 8 is Winter 2017.​

Hovering over Term 7, which is the Fall 2016 data point, we see that 61.2% of the spring 2015 transfer-in student cohort are still enrolled in college or have completed a credential.​

Now, let's examine how Pell Grants might affect retention and persistence rates.

To find that answer, let’s apply a dimension. Click “Select Dimension” and select “Pell Grant Recipient”. Now there are three lines in our chart – one representing students who have not received Pell Grants, one representing those who have received Pell Grants, and one for those whose Pell Grant status is unknown. Let’s filter out the unknown data by clicking the “Pell Grant Recipient” global filter, deselecting “Unknown”, and clicking on “Apply”. This makes our charts easier to read.​

Looking at the line chart, we find an interesting pattern.​

For the spring, fall, and winter terms, there is virtually no difference in retention and persistence rates based on Pell Grant status.​

But for Terms 2 and 6 which represents Summer 2015 and Summer 2016, we find that transfer-in students who have received Pell Grants retain and persist at much lower levels than transfer-in students who did not receive Pell Grants.  To help us understand this, we could conduct a survey to find out if other activities, like working at a paying job, are keeping out transfer-in students who received Pell Grants from enrolling in summer classes.   ​

We encourage you to explore your institution’s results in order to identify student populations who might need additional support. Thank you for joining us.​